pH and EC: What it Means for Your Plants

Discussion in 'Sick Plants and Problems' started by OhioStateBuckeyes, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Hello Grasscity. This is going to take me forever to type, so I hope you stoners enjoy it!

    pH of your growing medium is crucial to your plant's growth. pH determines the ionic concentration of hydrogen there is in a substance. Acidic pHes have a higher concentrate of H+ cations than OH- anions. Alkaline pHes are just the opposite; more OH- than H+. the highest alkalinity is 14, and the lowest is 0. 7.0 is the neutral pH, being neither acidic nor basic.

    So, in conclusion, your nutrient intake is influenced by your pH level. Some nutrients become unavailable for your plants to use in a low pH, like phosphorus. Manganese, sulfur, and Iron become unavailable with higher pHes. Maintaining a correct pH is key to growing healthy plants. If you continously add fertilizers to your soil with a pH that is off, than the nutrients that werent leeched out by runoff will just sit in your soil. These excess nutrients can bond with other nutrients you are trying to feed your plant - resulting in multiple deficiencies.

    If you have lots of a certain nutrient in your medium and it is unavailable because of pH, but than you correct your pH to the correct range, you are at very high risk of burning your plants.

    To recap, before adding ANY nutrients, make sure your pH is correct. DO NOT add any fertilizers to a plant with an incorrect pH.

    I did not make this chart, but here is a chart showing MJ's hydroponic & soil pH ranges:


    You can use things (but not limited to) like dolomitic lime and potassium bi-carbonate to raise your pH.

    You can use things like (again, not limited to) humic acid, citric acid, ammonium nitrate, and apple cider vinegar to raise your pH.

    Different nutrients & fertilizers have different effects on your pH, so it is important to correctly adjust your pH after you add all of your concentrates.

    Even if you purchase soil from a store, and the company claims to adjust the pH, you should always check to see if they are correct. For example, sphagnum peat moss is naturally acidic. If the company claims to adjust the pH, but they accidentally didn't add enough dolomite lime, than you (the grower) will be the one to pay for it. (See bottom to learn how to test soil)

    EC (Electrical Conductivity) is just as important as your pH. The EC of your solution & soil determine the amount of salts present in your soil. Since fertilizers are salts, the EC determines how many nutrients you have in your soil/reservoir. Many different soil testers & nutrient charts use PPMs instead of ECs, but PPMs are just a rough conversion of EC. PPM is the calculation of the total dissolved solids parts per million of the solution. EC tests the Electrical Conductivity of the solution. Too little ECs can result in plant deficiencies; too high can result in burn. A high EC can cause your roots to burn, as well as your leaves, which than give your plant a deficiency (because the burnt roots can't take up nutrients!) So don't burn your plants!


    Keep EC/PPMs roughly as follows:

    Seedlings & Babies – 0.2-0.4/100-250

    Early Vegetation - 0.5-0.8/300-400

    Mature Vegetation – 0.8-1.3/450-700

    Early Flowering – 1.4-1.9/750-950

    Mature Flowering – 2.0-3.0/1000-1600

    Be sure to make sure you know what fertilizers are going in your plant! What does Advanced Nutrients derive their potassium from in their Connseur formula? Do they use Muriate of Potash, or Potassium Sulfate? Different fertilizers have more salts than others.

    Potassium chloride – Muriate of Potash has a salt index of about 110.

    Potassium sulfate has a salt index of 46.

    So Muriate of Potash will burn your plants WAY quicker than Potassium Sulfate. It is important to know these things!


    To test your pH of your soil, you will need a pH pen, or at least liquid drop tests. I would recommend a pH pen.

    To test the ECs of the medium, you will need a meter, like the Truncheon meter. Hanna makes a combination of a pH pen and EC tester.

    1. Take RO water (only RO water, as it doesn't really hold a pH.)
    2. Water the soil with your reverse osmosis water, and collect the runoff water that drips from the bottom holes.
    3. Test the pH of your runoff. Than test your ECs.

    This won't take a 100% accurate reading of your pH and EC, but it will give you an idea of where you are at.

    If your ECs are too high in your soil, than you need to flush your soil immediately. H202 is inorganic, but it is a great thing to use to help leech out extra salts. For a flush, you would use an extremely small amount (with grocery store purchased hydrogen peroxide you would use about 5mL/4L.)

    If your ECs are too low, than your plant is hungry!

    Keep em' healthy GC!!
  2. You should go visit the Organic section of GC sometime, I know you're smart and you'd find it enlightening .
  3. #3 OhioStateBuckeyes, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2011
    im not going to change what i wrote, but i realized some of the things i said contradict the charts. i wrote this article with a mindset of plants. You guys can use this as a refrence for the tomatoes in your garden as well :) .

    I also have a different salt chart in my possessions. i will share it with you guys :)

    Muriate of Potash....................................109-116
    Ammonium Nitrate...................................105
    Potassium Nitrate....................................74
    Ammonium Sulfate...................................69
    Potassium Sulfate....................................46
    Triple Superphosphate..............................10
    Single superphosphate...............................8
    Calcium metaphosphate.............................0

    refrences for my articles:
  4. This is the list you really want. Not Ph and EC. It's about potential soil composition. It's the NPK of everyday foods, you can mulch, compost, bokashi, lactobacillus acidophilus, or otherwise ammend soil with....The first time I used some of the stuff on this chart to mix a run of soil, I didn't need the nutes that I bought, the WHOLE me a small fortuna.

    Alfalfa Hay: 2.45/05/2.1
    Apple Fruit: 0.05/0.02/0.1
    Apple Leaves: 1.0/0.15/0.4
    Apple Pomace: 0.2/0.02/0.15
    Apple skins(ash) : 0/3.0/11/74
    Banana Residues (ash): 1.75/0.75/0.5
    Barley (grain): 0/0/0.5
    Barley (straw): 0/0/1.0
    Basalt Rock: 0/0/1.5
    Bat Guano: 5.0-8.0/4.0-5.0/1.0
    Beans, garden(seed and hull): 0.25/0.08/03
    Beet Wastes: 0.4/0.4/0.7-4.1
    Blood meal: 15.0/0/0
    Bone Black: 1.5/0/0
    Bonemeal (raw): 3.3-4.1/21.0/0.2
    Bonemeal (steamed): 1.6-2.5/21.0/0.2
    Brewery Wastes (wet): 1.0/0.5/0.05
    Buckwheat straw: 0/0/2.0
    Cantaloupe Rinds (ash): 0/9.77/12.0
    Castor pomace: 4.0-6.6/1.0-2.0/1.0-2.0
    Cattail reeds and water lily stems: 2.0/0.8/3.4
    Cattail Seed: 0.98/0.25/0.1
    Cattle Manure (fresh): 0.29/0.25/0.1
    Cherry Leaves: 0.6/0/0.7
    Chicken Manure (fresh): 1.6/1.0-1.5/0.6-1.0
    Clover: 2/0/0/0 (also contains calcium)
    Cocoa Shell Dust: 1.0/1.5/1.7
    Coffee Grounds: 2.0/0.36/0.67
    Corn (grain): 1.65/0.65/0.4
    Corn (green forage): 0.4/0.13/0.33
    Corn cobs: 0/0/2.0
    Corn Silage: 0.42/0/0
    Cornstalks: 0.75/0/0.8
    Cottonseed hulls (ash): 0/8.7/23.9
    Cottonseed Meal: 7.0/2.0-3.0/1.8
    Cotton Wastes (factory): 1.32/0.45/0.36
    Cowpea Hay: 3.0/0/2.3
    Cowpeas (green forage): 0.45/0.12/0.45
    Cowpeas (seed): 3.1/1.0/1.2
    Crabgrass (green): 0.66/0.19/0.71
    Crabs (dried, ground): 10.0/0/0
    Crabs (fresh): 5.0/3.6/0.2
    Cucumber Skins (ash): 0/11.28/27.2
    Dried Blood: 10.0-14.0/1.0-5.0/0
    Duck Manure (fresh): 1.12/1.44/0.6
    Eggs: 2.25/0.4/0.15
    Eggshells: 1.19/0.38/0.14
    Feathers: 15.3/0/0
    Felt Wastes: 14.0/0/1.0
    Field Beans (seed): 4.0/1.2/1.3
    Feild Beans (shells): 1.7/0.3/1.3
    Fish (dried, ground): 8.0/7.0/0
    Fish Scraps (fresh): 6.5/3.75/0
    Gluten Meal: 6.4/0/0
    Granite Dust: 0/0/3.0-5.5
    Grapefruit Skins (ash): 0/3.6/30.6
    Grape Leaves: 0.45/0.1/0.4
    Grape Pomace: 1.0/0.07/0.3
    Grass (imature): 1.0/0/1.2
    Greensand: 0/1.5/7.0
    Hair: 14/0/0/0
    Hoof and Horn Meal: 12.5/2.0/0
    Horse Manure (fresh): 0.44/0.35/0.3
    Incinerator Ash: 0.24/5.15/2.33
    Jellyfish (dried): 4.6/0/0
    Kentucky Bluegrass (green): 0.66/0.19/0.71
    Kentucky Bluegrass (hay): 1.2/0.4/2.0
    Leather Dust: 11.0/0/0
    Lemon Culls: 0.15/0.06/0.26
    Lemon Skins (ash): 06.33/1.0
    Lobster Refuse: 4.5/3.5/0
    Milk: 0.5/0.3/0.18
    Millet Hay: 1.2/0/3.2
    Molasses Residue
    (From alcohol manufacture): 0.7/0/5.32
    Molasses Waste
    (From Sugar refining): 0/0/3.0-4.0
    Mud (fresh water): 1.37/0.26/0.22
    Mud (harbour): 0.99/0.77/0.05
    Mud (salt): 0.4.0/0
    Mussels: 1.0/0.12/0.13
    Nutshells: 2.5/0/0
    Oak Leaves: 0.8/0.35/0.2
    Oats (grain): 2.0/0.8/0.6
    Oats (green fodder): 0.49/0/0
    Oat straw: 0/0/1.5
    Olive Pomace: 1.15/0.78/1.3
    Orange Culls: 0.2/0.13/0.21
    Orange Skins: 0/3.0/27.0
    Oyster Shells: 0.36/0/0
    Peach Leaves: 0.9/0.15/0.6
    Pea forage: 1.5-2.5/0/1.4
    Peanuts (seed/kernals): 3.6/0.7/0.45
    Peanut Shells: 3.6/0.15/0.5
    Pea Pods (ash): 0/3.0/9.0
    Pea (vines): 0.25/0/0.7
    Pear Leaves: 0.7/0/0.4
    Pigeon manure (fresh): 4.19/2.24/1.0
    Pigweed (rough): 0.6/0.1/0
    Pine Needles: 0.5/0.12/0.03
    Potato Skins (ash): 0/5.18/27.5
    Potaote Tubers: 0.35/0.15/2.5
    Potatoe Vines (dried): 0.6/0.16/1.6
    Prune Refuse: 0.18/0.07/0.31
    Pumpkins (fresh): 0.16/0.07/0.26
    Rabbitbrush (ash): 0/0/13.04
    Rabbit Manure: 2.4/1.4/0.6
    Ragweed: 0.76/0.26/0
    Rapeseed meal: 0/1.0=2.0/1.0=3.0
    Raspberry leaves: 1.45/0/0.6
    Red clover hay: 2.1/0.6/2.1
    Redrop Hay: 1.2/0.35/1.0
    Rock and Mussel Deposits
    From Ocean: 0.22/0.09/1.78
    Roses (flowers): 0.3/0.1/0.4
    Rye Straw: 0/0/1.0
    Salt March Hay: 1.1/0.25/0.75
    Sardine Scrap: 8.0/7.1/0
    Seaweed (dried): 1.1-1.5/0.75/4.9 (Seaweed is loaded with micronutrients including: Boron, Iodine, Magnesium and so on.)
    Seaweed (fresh): 0.2-0.4/0/0
    Sheep and Goat Manure (fresh): 0.55/0.6/0.3
    Shoddy and Felt: 8.0/0/0
    Shrimp Heads (dried): 7.8/4.2/0
    Shrimp Wastes: 2.9/10.0/0
    Siftings From Oyster Shell Mounds: 0.36/10.38/0.09
    Silk Mill Wastes: 8.0/1.14/1.0
    Silkworm Cocoons:10.0/1.82/1.08
    Sludge: 2.0/1.9/0.3
    Sludge (activated): 5.0/2.5-4.0/0.6
    Smokehouse/Firepit Ash:0/0/4.96
    Sorghum Straw:0/0/1.0
    Soybean Hay: 1.5-3.0/0/1.2-2.3
    Starfish: 1.8/0.2/0.25
    String Beans (strings and stems, ash): 0/4.99/18.0
    Sugar Wastes (raw): 2.0/8.0/0
    Sweet Potatoes: 0.25/0.1/0.5
    Swine Manure (fresh): 0.6/0.45/0.5
    Tanbark Ash: 0/0.34/3.8
    Tanbark Ash (spent): 0/1.75/2.0
    Tankage: 3.0-11.0/2.0-5.0/0
    Tea Grounds: 4.15/0.62/0.4
    Timothy Hay: 1.2/0.55/1.4
    Tobacco Leaves: 4.0/0.5/6.0
    Tobacco Stems: 2.5-3.7/0.6-0.9/4.5-7.0
    Tomatoe Fruit: 0.2/0.07/0.35
    Tomatoe Leaves: 0.35/0.1/0.4
    Tomatoe Stalks: 0.35/0.1/0.5
    Tung Oil Pumace: 6.1/0/0
    Vetch Hay: 2.8/0/2.3
    Waste Silt: 9.5/0/0
    Wheat Bran: 2.4/2.9/1.6
    Wheat (grain): 2.0/0.85/0.5
    Wheat Straw: 0.5/0.15/0.8
    White Clover (Green): 0.5/0.2/0.3
    Winter Rye Hay: 0/0/1.0
    Wood Ash: 0/1.0-2.0/6.0-10.0
    Wool Wastes: 3.5-6.0/2.0-4.0/1.0-3.5 Plant - Based
    Alfalfa meal 3-0.5-3 Ca 8 Mg0.3 S 0.1
    Corn gluten 9-0-0 ca 0 Mg 0 s 0
    Cottenseed meal 7-2.5-1.5-1.5 ca 0.5 mg 1 s 0.2
    Soybean meal 7-1.2-1.5-0.4 Ca 0.4 mg 0.3 s 0.2
    Seaweed 0.7-0.8-5 Ca 0.2 Mg 0.1 S 0
    Wood Ash 0-2-6 Ca 20 Mg 1 S 0
    Kelp Meal 1-0-2
    potash 0-0-30

    Animal Based
    Blood meal 15-3-0 Ca 0.3 Mg 0 S 0 some are 12-0-0
    Bonemeal 3.5-22-0 Ca 22 MG 0.6 S 0.2
    Feathermeal 15-0-0 Ca 0 MG 0 S 0
    Fish Products 10-6-0 Ca 6 Mg 0.2 S 0.2
    Bonechar 0-16-0
    Alask fish fert 5-1-1
    Neptunes harvest 2-3-1

    Mined Minerals
    Granite dust 0-0-4 Ca 0 MG 0 S 0
    Greensand 0-1-8 Ca 0.5 Mg 3 S 0.1
    Gypsum 0-0-0.5 Ca 22 Mg 0.4 S 17
    Langbeinite 0-0-22 Ca 0 Mg 18 S 27
    Dolomitic Lime 0-0-0 Ca 25 MG 9 S 0.3
    Calcitic Lime 0-0-0.3 Ca 32 MG 3 S 0.1
    Rock Phosphate 0-25-0 Ca 0 Mg 0 S 10
    Zeolite 0-0-3.2 Ca 2.5 Ca 2.5 S 0
    Azomite 70 trace minerals from A-Z

    Recycled Materials
    Coffee grounds 2-.3-.3 Ca .1 Mg .1 S 0
    Grass clipings 4-1-3 Ca 8 Mg 3 S .5
    Leaves .8-.4-.2 Ca 0 Mg 0 S 0
    Sawdust .2-0-.2 CA 0 Mg 0 S 0
    Compost 1-0.5-1 Ca 0.3 MG 0.2 S 0.3

    Chicken 2-1.5-.5 Ca 2 Mg .2 S .1
    Cow .5-.2-.5 Ca .2 Mg .1 S .1
    Horse .6-.2-.5 Ca .5 Mg .1 S.1
    Sheep 1-.3-1 Ca 1 Mg .1 S .05
    Jamaican bat guano 1-10-0.2
    Mexican Bat Guano 10-2-1
    Peruvian seabird guano 10-10-2
    Indonesion Bat guano .5-12-2
    Fossilized sea bird guano 1-10-1
  5. #5 OhioStateBuckeyes, Nov 30, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2011
    WOW! thank you very much. epsoma puts that their greensand is like 0-0-0.4 or somthing...what a bunch of liars.

    i will be using that alot while building my soil! (your list as a refrence)

    so now we got the salt index of common chemical fertilizers

    and the NPKs of almost every manure, mineral, and recyclable waste (for hort.) on the enitre planet! thank you skunk!

    here is the breakdown of azomite, as posted above.

  6. Greensand is broken down slooooowly, I'd add kelp meal to offset the degradation time.
  7. This is what I call the "What's in Your Bottle" site:

    Fertilizer Product Database

    You can look and see exactly what you are paying for in all of those hip looking bottles of nutes...

    It's very helpful.
  8. Wow great job guys! I dig it!
  9. Here's another chart that I found in my pages of potcrap.

    Attached Files:

  10. they put Molybdenum as Mb in that chart; its actually Mo. nothing somebody with plant knowledge cant figure out though :smoke:

    ive never had a Mo deficiency with MJ. does it look similar to a poinsettia Mo deficiency? (yellowing edges of leaf)

  11. You only get one if you have too much copper in the soil... and probably if you have no P too because P competes with Cu as well.
  12. Nice work Buckeye :).

    This should turn into a must read thread for all soil growerz.

    So far, u an Skunky are a wealth of valuable info.

  13. I'm just playin in the bass line...Buck's doing all the work.
  14. Hey guys! Wats up? :)
  15. hey sean :wave:

    nothin much over here, i just gorged myself with sushi. im not really a "fishy" type of guy, and ill quickly pass on the raw fish. but sushi with salmon, crab, shrimp, maybe tuna......send it over my way :smoke:

    worms are a eating downstairs...pretty soon ill never have to worry about pH again.

    but as for all chemical growers who read this page, pH is important. in organic growing, you dont have to worry about pH throughout your cycle. THIS DOES NOT mean using bottles that are labled "organic." this means building your own soils with additives like kelp, alfalfa meal, bonemeal, greensand, etc. it seems like all organic growing (for what we do, at least) revolves around earthworm castings. another thing you gotta make on your own.

    i dont want any readers to get confused with the "forget about pH" mentality. to achieve this, you have to go really really organic. so organic that you cannot use bottled nutes. with chemical nutrients (even if the bottle says "organic"), maintaining your pH is everything.

  16. [quote name='"OSUBuckeyes"']hey sean :wave:

    nothin much over here, i just gorged myself with sushi. im not really a "fishy" type of guy, and ill quickly pass on the raw fish. but sushi with salmon, crab, shrimp, maybe tuna......send it over my way :smoke:

    worms are a eating downstairs...pretty soon ill never have to worry about pH again.

    but as for all chemical growers who read this page, pH is important. in organic growing, you dont have to worry about pH throughout your cycle. THIS DOES NOT mean using bottles that are labled "organic." this means building your own soils with additives like kelp, alfalfa meal, bonemeal, greensand, etc. it seems like all organic growing (for what we do, at least) revolves around earthworm castings. another thing you gotta make on your own.

    i dont want any readers to get confused with the "forget about pH" mentality. to achieve this, you have to go really really organic. so organic that you cannot use bottled nutes. with chemical nutrients (even if the bottle says "organic"), maintaining your pH is everything.


    I love sushi! There is this one place that makes this "red dragon" its a tempura shrimp roll with spicy tuna on the top and unagi sauce on top of that. Its unreal!

    I also love now worrying about burning my girls and letting my microbes work for me. No more pH problems for me. I know a lot of people dont like molasses, but i still use it and have great results with it!

    As for the worms, you are a lucky guy. I still have to wait to get that going. But im not worried, i got a great compost going with a lot of fruit like guava, mango, bread fruit, tangerines, bananas and a whole shyt load of aloe vera. Ganna be great! I cannot get any kelp here but i do know and aquaculture facility that sells hawaiian seaweed also very high in trace minerals. So im ganna get some of that n be a very happy camper also. I just dont know where to find any comfrey :(
  17. What should pH be for foliar? I'm assuming Hydro values
    Foliar feeding, using bio based, natural organic foliar fertilizer, is an effective method for correcting soil deficiencies and overcoming the soil's inability to transfer nutrients to the plant. Tests have shown that up to 90 percent of a foliar fed nutrient solution can be found in the smallest root of a plant within 60 minutes of application. A project conducted at Michigan State University, using radio­active tagged nutrients, proved that foliar feeding can be 8 to10 times more effective than soil feeding.

    The effectiveness of bio based foliar applied nutrients is determined by (1) The condition of the leaf surface, in particular the waxy cuticle. The cuticle is only partially permeable to water and dissolved nutrients and, as a result, it can limit nutrient uptake. (2) The length of time the nutrient remains dissolved in the solution on the leaf's surface. (3) diffusion, the movement of elements from a high concentration to a low concentration. For diffusion to occur, the nutrient must dissolve. and (4) The type of formulation. Water-soluble formulations generally work better for foliar applications as they are more easily absorbed when compared to insoluble solutions. Water insoluble formulations are generally slow acting because they must dissolve before they can be absorbed and are more applicable for soil applications.

    The best time to foliar feed is late evening to early morning. These are the times when the stomata (the small opening on the leaves) are open.

    Avoid foliar spraying when –
    When the temperature above 80F.
    When the weather is hot and dry and water vapor is leaving the cells.

    Foliar spray –
    When the temperature is 72F or below.
    Early in the morning when the cells of the leaf are full of water and dew has collected on the foliage.
    When air temperatures and humidity both equal 135 or less.
    When air temperature is cooler than soil surface temperature.

    NOTE: A biological surfactant can reduce water tension and improve the absorption rate of bio based foliar sprays.

    Where possible, the pH of a foliar spray should be between 6.2 to 7.0. To promote young plant growth a sweeter (alkaline) solution (pH 7.0) is recommended. For established growth, a more sour (acid) solution (pH 6.2) is recommended.

    An effective foliar application can produce results in 1 to 6 days. Use a refractometer to detect results.

    NOTE: Ensure fertilizer is thoroughly mixed in water - apply in a fine mist - avoid drenching. No special equipment is required - Foliar solutions can be applied with the aid of conventional spray equipment i.e. fan sprayer, back pack sprayer, hi-boy, low or high volume ground sprayer, aerial sprayer etc.

    This was exactly sourced from: Foliar fertilizer; Foliar spray can correct soil deficiencies
  19. Woo i'm off; thanks!

    Just for knowings sake, anyone know why FF ph would actually need to be that high (higher than soils range, even?) I kinda just assumed hydro values because its nutes in solution.
  20. Honestly I would be more likely to fallow pH ranges given by OSU than FF (no offense to FF). His research is consistent and applicable to all hydro nutrients not just one in particular and backed by real scientific evidence.

    but thats my opinion. its kind of up to you on what road to take pH wise tho. you are the grower and just like a parent. you know whats best for your little babies :)

    oh and thanks for the +rep! I greatly appreciate it! (woo hoo hoo! i got three little dots lmao)

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